Suu Kyi′s pro-democracy NLD holds party congress | News | DW | 08.03.2013
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Suu Kyi's pro-democracy NLD holds party congress

The party of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has met for its first political conference in more than two decades. A new leadership is to be elected, amid calls for renewal within the ranks.

Members of Myanmar's main opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD) assembled in the country's former capital, Yangon, on Friday to begin the three day congress.

Suu Kyi was absent from the session because she was attending parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw, but is due to attend on Saturday.

The meeting is the first for the party since it was founded in 1988 as an offshoot of a pro-democracy movement that was quashed by the military.

The party is set to elect a 120-member central executive committee and party leader, while Suu Kyi is predicted to remain at the helm.

Appeal for renewal

Deputy NLD leader Tin Oo, who helped found the party, began the congress with a call for unity and change.

"Our party must be renewed and reformed," said the 86-year-old. "We are going to advocate for democracy, so our party must be based on democratization."

A large number of the senior party members are elderly and analysts have said the NLD needs to transform itself. The party has been called upon to include more younger members and technocrats in decision-making ahead of national elections in 2015.

Suu Kyi, who entered parliament with the party last year, spent 15 years under house arrest after the NLD was barred from taking power in 1990, despite winning elections.

rc/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)